18 March 2019

Sierra Leone: Political Affairs Ministry to Promote National Cohesion, Peace

Minister of Political and Public Affairs, Ambassador Mohamed Foday Yumkella, has told newsmen that his ministry would soon embark on a nationwide consultation to enhance peace and democratic cohesion, as well as bridge existing gaps among the Sierra Leonean populace.

Ambassador Yumkella, who was speaking at the usual Ministry of Information and Communications press briefing on Thursday, 14th March, said his ministry works in the interest of all political parties.

He noted that he was in office because the Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) was in power, but that his office was not an extension of the party.

"We are here today to tell you that we will embark on a nationwide consultation for peace and cohesion. We are trying to build a situation where the people should participate. They should discuss the issues around politics and democratic practices. The Chief Minister's Office has embraced this initiative. We have a coordinating team comprising All Political Parties Association (APPA), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Universities, etc. It is a democratic consolidation for peace and democracy," he said.

He reiterated that they would undertake extensive consultations in every chiefdom across the country for three days, and that people are expected to make their inputs because it's about their future and that of the country.

Minister Yumkella insinuated that there might be conflict between cattle rearers and crop growers in Kabala, while issues around land could be visible in Freetown, adding that those were concerns that they would like to record, come up with an agenda for national discussion and find sustainable solutions.

Relating to the issues highlighted in the Green Paper, which the Political Affairs recently presented to President Bio, Chief Executive Officer of AMNet, Madam Hawa Samai, said the it is a consultative document upon which content a research would be conducted and thereafter come up with a White Paper.

"The Green Paper would be used to ask Sierra Leoneans if there is need for an infrastructure for peace in Sierra Leone. We will look at some of the causes of conflict in Sierra Leone, and also look at the different types of conflicts, causes for institutional collapse, and how corruption is igniting these conflicts. When these causes are known, the government would now find a way to prevent them," she said.

Dr. Charles Silver, Executive Director of Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), said the consultation would be done against the backdrop that no one individual or group of individuals has solution to the problems of Sierra Leone.

"After this consultation, the intended benefits should serve all Sierra Leoneans. This consultation is to know what is happening and not putting anyone on trial," he said.

He said they have done intensive training and rehearsals within themselves so as to know how to go about the consultation.

"I have realised that when it comes to conflict, Sierra Leoneans are united but when it comes to peace there is no unity. This time around, we need unity to find a lasting solution to our problems. We will introduce the topic and allow the people to respond," he noted.

Deputy Minister of Public and Political Affairs, Amara Kallon, while responding to question regarding the sample figure needed for consultation, said the figure is not stagnant, but that the membership for all town hall meetings would comprise bike riders union, petty traders, civil society organisations, among others.

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